National Signing Day; or, ‘How to destroy a young mans life with unrealistic expectations’


As with that whole LeBron debacle, ‘We are all witnesses’, and we are all partly to blame.

Is anyone else slightly bothered by the amazing, circus like furor over what has glibly been dubbed, ‘National Signing Day’. For those of you who didn’t go anywhere near the sports pages on the Internet yesterday, while much of the world watched in awe at the amazing scenes coming from Tahrir Square the major sporting media outlets were busy wearing out their keyboards describing the day high school students commit to colleges.

The language used escalated the event to Superbowl levels of importance and priority

  • ‘You want drama?’
  • ‘…delivered on dramatics’
  • ‘High drama on National Signing day’

As the final results came in, individual signings were singled out as being particularly good or bad. Think about that for a second, Imagine you are a young high school student, looking forward to going to college and playing a bit of football, meanwhile a major national media entity describes your decision and impending college career as ‘poor’ and ranks your new college’s recruiting class partly based on their definition of you.

Why on earth is it okay with everyone that we are placing this unbelievable pressure on the shoulders of such young people? We need to take a serious look at this situation.

One of the top ‘rated’ picks, Cyrus Kouandjio is being singled out for being ‘indecisive’ with his final decision. What a disgraceful situation. Kouandjio is being pushed into making a major life decision by the expectations of the sporting media, and expectant college football fans too. Most people get to sit down and calmly make an informed decision on their immediate college future. Not these guys.

Here’s the problem.

By backing up the media truck and very-ceremoniously dumping so much hype and attention on the backs of these extremely young men, we are creating wildly unrealistic and dramatic expectations for and around them. This is the start of their major athletic lives, and for young gentlemen courted by college football programs with such drama, fervor and attention, how on earth are they expected to attain anything approaching college normality?

Don’t you think it is odd that not anywhere amongst the billions of words being written on National Signing day is any attention given to the academic aspirations or desires of these college bound kids? They are being dragged into this wildly over hyped footballing world, we are telling them just how important they are and we are grading their moves like you grade cattle. However, when these commodities, sorry, players, when they fall off line by accepting money, gifts or by missing class, we isolate them and systematically destroy them for not ‘playing the game’

Is it any wonder some of these young athletes become embroiled in financial scandal down the road? Their opening experience of college football in many cases was of a drama filled recruitment process played out under the hot, glaring spotlight of massive media coverage. They expect to be treated differently, they expect perks, they expect to hear only the word ‘yes’ and they are very much used to getting what they want. From the start of their collegiate lives, they were promised the world.

Then, when they decide they want something material to show for their hard work and athletic endeavor, when things turn ugly and the stories start to slip into the media rotation like an oil spill, we completely turn our backs on them.

We use them, we use them on National Signing day, and then when some seedy future drama unfolds and the world turns against them, we chew them up one more time, using them to sell papers or achieve IP address hits, we chew them up and spit them out, without thinking, why did they think they needed that $200,000 pick up truck?

It’s disgusting, and we are all witnesses, we are all partly to blame.





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